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Open Access Research article

Mithramycin downregulates proinflammatory cytokine-induced matrix metalloproteinase gene expression in articular chondrocytes

Abdelhamid Liacini, Judith Sylvester, Wen Qing Li and Muhammad Zafarullah*

Author Affiliations

Département de Médecine and Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM), Hôpital Notre-Dame du CHUM, Montréal, Québec, Canada

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2005, 7:R777-R783  doi:10.1186/ar1735

Published: 4 April 2005

Abstract

Interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-17 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) are the main proinflammatory cytokines implicated in cartilage breakdown by matrix metalloproteinase (MMPs) in arthritic joints. We studied the impact of an anti-neoplastic antibiotic, mithramycin, on the induction of MMPs in chondrocytes. MMP-3 and MMP-13 gene expression induced by IL-1β, TNF-α and IL-17 was downregulated by mithramycin in human chondrosarcoma SW1353 cells and in primary human and bovine femoral head chondrocytes. Constitutive and IL-1-stimulated MMP-13 levels in bovine and human cartilage explants were also suppressed. Mithramycin did not significantly affect the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein kinases, extracellular signal-regulated kinase, p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Despite effective inhibition of MMP expression by mithramycin and its potential to reduce cartilage degeneration, the agent might work through multiple unidentified mechanisms.